From the hub of the Early Music Festival, the Utrecht Tivoli-Vredenburg building, it was off to the Bartholomeus Gasthuis and another fringe concert. Ensemble Il Bell’ Humore was going to perform Italian Renaissance dances and love songs at this former hospital, now a care home.
The ensemble’s concert “A Lieta Vita” or the power of love, consisted of alternating Renaissance songs and instrumental pieces. Or as Alice Borciani explained: a real mix of forms and styles. And again it has to be stated: the selected pieces ranged from late 15th century to early 17th century, but the madrigals and other songs were not performed as static and stifling as during the concert by the Windsor Consort.
This concert much more resembled the morning fringe concert by Ignotae Deae. Alice Borciani has the same kind of ringing voice, capable of expressing all emotions as has Antonia Harper. But the other two members played different instruments. Anne Freitag played the traverse, while Ryosuke Sakamoto played lute.
Ensemble Il Bell’ Humore had also opted for works by male composers. The public was treated to songs and tunes ranging from the folk-like anonymous “La Monica-Celeste giglio” to a more courtly Italian “Lasso vita mia” by Dowland, improvisations, and a dazzling mix of other forms. Impressive and totally in tune with the festival’s theme of Venetian – or at least Italian – music.
Alice Borciani regularly explained the various songs and introduced instrumental variations. This ensured members of the public who did not understand Italian, were still able to appreciate the theme of songs. I especially liked Adrian Willaert’s “Et se per gelosia”, Cosimo Bottegari’s “Chi mi sente cantar” and Marchetto Cara’s “per dolor me bagno el viso”. From the instrumental pieces, Fabritio Caroso’s Balletto on La Monica-Celeste impressed, as well as Joan Ambrosio Dalza’s Pavane alla venetiana, Saltarello and Piva.
It was difficult to decide which of the two fringe concerts was better: the morning one with female composers, or the afternoon one with works by male composers. The one focussing on songs and only one or two instrumental pieces, or this concert with a program alternating songs with instrumental pieces. Each impressed and dazzled, but should I have to decide between Il Bell’ Humore or Ignotae Deae … By a hair, it would be the morning concert. It remained the most stunning concert of the two – but only just.
Like a few other ensembles, ensemble Il Bell’ Humore performed twice in Utrecht during this Early Music Festival 2016. This was their second concert during the festival.
Ensemble Il Bell’ Humore:
Alice Borciani, soprano;
Anne Freitag, traverso;
Ryosuke Sakamoto, lute
Giovanni G Gastoldi/Fabritio Caroso: l’Innamorato Forza d’Amore, Balletto;
Alfonso dalla Viola: Laccio gentil;
Palestrina/Francesco Rognoni Pulchra es amica mea;
Giovanni Girolamo Kapsberger: Improvisation, Ricercata;
John Dowland: Lasso vita mia;
Anonymous/Fabritio Caroso: La Monica Celeste giglio, Balletto;
Adrian Willaert: Et se per gelosia, Improvisation: Passamezzo;
Cosimo Bottegari: Chi mi senta cantar;
Marchetto Cara: Per dolor me bagno el viso;
Joan Ambrosi Dalza: Pavane alla venetiana, Saltarello, Piva;
Marchetto Cara: Come chél bianco cigno;
Bartolomeo Tromboncino: Ostinato vo’seguire